Journals of the Continental Congress

Second Continental Congress: February 23, 1776

February 23, 1776

Carter Braxton, replaces Peyton Randolph as a Virginia delegate for the 1776 session.  Congress spent most of the day 1) hearing from, or creating new, committees on the war effort and 2) encouraging “public works” and private effort projects—to produce more ammunition and erect “powder mills.” 

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Congress ordered the Secret Committee return to the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety the arms borrowed for continental use and that the it be empowered for the purpose of procuring arms and ammunition, to export produce of these colonies, equal to the amount of that by them exported in two vessels lately taken by the enemy.”  Congress approved The Committee of Claims report on payments due to various individuals involved in the Canadian, New York and Indian aspects of the war effort.

Congress Resolved, That a Committee of Five–Robert Treat Paine, James Wilson, Samuel Huntington, [Richard Henry] Lee, and Lewis Morris–be appointed to encourage the distribution and manufacture of arms for the use of “the United Colonies.”  And that “the letter of Christopher Leffingwell, dated 29 November, 1775, with sundry papers relating to the cargo of the Brig Nancy,” be sent to a committee of three: George Wythe, Samuel Huntington, and Elbridge Gerry.

Resolved, That the committee, for superintending the treasury, be authorized to 1) “employ one or more clerks for stating, keeping, and liquidating the public accounts, under their direction, and to provide books and a suitable office for that purpose; and 2) call upon “the different committees of Congress, assemblies, conventions, councils or committees of safety, continental officers, and private persons, who have been or shall be entrusted with public money, for their accounts and vouchers, and for such other materials and information, as the said committee on the treasury shall judge to be useful, in stating, checking and auditing the public accounts.”

Congress ordered that that a Committee of this Congress, to consist of one member from each colony, be appointed–Josiah Bartlett, Robert Treat Paine, Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Huntington, Lewis Morris, Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, Charles Humphreys, George Read, William Paca, Carter Braxton, Joseph Hewes, Edward Rutledge, and Archibald Bullock—“to consider of further ways and means of promoting and encouraging the manufactures of salt petre, sulphur and [gun] powder in these colonies, and to correspond with the several assemblies and conventions. and councils or committees of safety in the several colonies, that this Congress may be, from time to time, truly informed of the progress made in these manufactures in all the colonies.”

Apparently, that Captain Harman “enlisted into his company, and carried with him to Canada, thirteen servants, without the consent and contrary to the desires of their masters.  Resolved, That a committee of 3–James Wilson, Thomas Willing, and George Wythe–be appointed to inquire into this matter, and report to Congress.

Resolved, That Congress will, on Monday next, take into consideration the letters from General Washington, &c.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock on Monday.

Richard Smith’s Diary

The minutes read. An Application was made from the Jersey Convention to know Whether the Battalion of Minute Men under Col. Charles Stewart and Lt. Col. Mark Thompson which are getting ready for N York at the Requisition of Gen Lee, shall march or not? and if so, desiring some Arms for them, after Debate the Battalion was countermanded. Letters from Gen. Washington, Ld. Stirling and others were read & referred to a Committee of the whole, Governor Ward in the Chair.

The General complains that he cannot get Men or Arms enough, that at least 2000 Men in his Camp are without Firelocks & the New England Men are averse to enlisting for a longer Term than One year & not fond of serving under any but Officers of their own choosing. Harrison proposed that 3 Millions of Dollars shall be given Annually to the 4 New England-Governments and they to carry on the War their own Way. After these Subjects had been argued and sundry Remedies proposed, the Committee rose without Determination. The Companies of Wayne’s Regiment ordered to New York as fast as they can be got ready….Paine and others wished a Committee to be raised to consider of the speediest Methods of manufacturing Fire Arms in America, deferred.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.